It has been said that there has been cheating going on in NASCAR since they first started. Yes, advantages were sought, but usually it was to make the car go faster in order to win, not to throw the race in order to fix an outcome.
Richard Petty, the King himself, got caught winning with an engine that was not just a bit too big but more like super sized. Country singer Marty Robbins turned down rookie of the race honors after racing at Talladega in 1972 as he had modified the restrictor plate just to see what it was like to run like Richard Petty. Some boys have run with nitrous oxide bottles, some with expanded gas tanks, others with modified car frames, and the list goes on and on.
So, what is the big deal? Well, fixing the outcome of a contest gets you tossed for life out of baseball. Shoeless Joe Jackson would have been in the Hall of Fame 60 years ago if not for that 1919 World Series. Fixing the outcome in NASCAR should come with consequences, as well, if you do not want it to go the route of professional wrestling. Goodbye six figured prize money, multi-million dollar sponsorship deals, national television contracts, and goodbye to all those fans who expect to see a real contest presenting an outcome not fixed before or during a race.
If not for Michael Waltrip Racing, Joey Logano would probably have finished 25th instead of 22nd at Richmond. If he had, Logano would have needed to use his wild card eligibility to make it through, beating out both Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Newman, with Jeff Gordon advancing by finishing 10th in the standings. If not for David Gilliland, Logano would have finished 23rd, tied with Gordon in points but still finishing tenth due to having a win, something Gordon does not yet have this season.
From listening to the in-car radio, it appears Logano’s team big wigs made a deal with Gilliland’s outfit to allow Joey to move past and into 22nd spot on the final lap. Just some insurance, as in the end the spot was not crucial to deciding the final pre-Chase standings. Still, the fix was in, even if it turned out to be unnecessary. Of course, it become unnecessary only because of Bowyer’s spin and the fact both his car and that of Brian Vickers made, some contend, very unnecessary pit stops to allow Logano to move up a couple of spots in the first place.
More worrisome, there was already chatter to play “Let’s Make A Deal” between Penske and Front Row before Bowyer even went for his slide. That should be a huge red flag for anybody. It may have turned out to be unnecessary in the end, but that was not the case when they started talking.
Just as you can not fix a baseball game, in this day and age you can not fix a NASCAR race. If you do not believe me, check out the reaction of those MWR sponsors who do not seem very happy about all this. If I have not yet made my point, imagine a major league baseball player going on Twitter to even jokingly discuss fixing a game. That boy’s ass would be grass and the Commissioner would be just jumping at the bit to take his mower to that lawn.
Can we stop cheating in NASCAR? Nope. Can we make damn sure those on whom we have evidence that they did cheat pay the price? Damn right we can. Cheat if you must, bu if you get caught cheating there should be hell to pay. If NASCAR prefers to continue having its big awards banquet at venues like the Wynn Las Vegas Luxury Resort and Casino instead of the Economy Motel in Rockingham, North Carolina, they damn well better make sure that is the case.